Friday, June 8, 2012



PAUL KEMP: “I want to make a promise to you, the reader. And I don’t know if I can fulfill it tomorrow, or even the day after that. But I put the bastards of this world on notice that I do not have their best interests at heart. I will try and speak for my reader. That is my promise. And it will be a voice made of ink and rage.”
 —The Rum Diary, 2011, Bruce Robinson.


A very young lady wants to write her first novel and asks me for advices, tricks, and short cuts. She also inquires if she needs to have a college degree.

‘So… you want to write novels, huh? Take two aspirins and go to bed. If the next morning you get up and still feel like writing a novel, then, I guess you have no alternative. Exceptions included.’

For a bunch of reasons, I decided to delete these words, and I wrote a quick response that I will expand here.

Three hints for writing a novel:

First, read, read, and read. After that, read more.

What should I read? Everything. Classic books, genre books, essays, pamphlets, billboards, magazines, Fortune Cookies, cereal boxes’ nutritional information… Whatever.

I feel I haven’t explained myself well enough. You MUST read. Just read.

Second, LIVE! You say, ‘I’m living.’ Wrong! By living, I mean the art of being fully aware of what you see and observe, what you hear, what you say, what you feel, and what you reflect on. Your senses must be turned on 24/7.

And no, my Dear Reader, you don’t need to get a college degree. You don’t need a Masters of the Universe or an Honorary degree from the University of Timbuktu either. But if you’ve got a degree, at the time of writing, please take your diploma down and replace it for this one.

Can you still become a great author? YES! William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, and so on, never got a college degree.

Third. Inquire. Imagine. Discover. Steal, if you will.

And then, and only then, you can sit at your desk and write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write. And perhaps delete again. And write…and so on.

Should you ask for the three golden rules to write a novel, alas, I’d be pleased to share them with you.

Take a pen and a notebook. Ready?!

So here we go.

There are three rules for writing a novel.
Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
—Courtesy of Mr. W. Somerset Maugham.

The best of lucks!

Copyright © 2012 by THE PYTHAGOREAN STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.

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